Massively important to today’s car buyers are the complete automotive retail experience – online and in-store.
Research from CitNOW which polled 1,000 UK drivers, found customers value the face-to-face experience most highly when thinking about their future retail expectations of purchasing a vehicle.
This echoes the fact that more people than a decade previously expect to visit a dealership as part of the car research process, with 54% saying they thought they would make an on-site visit today, compared to when they were looking in 2010 (48%).
That’s not to undermine the importance of the virtual forecourt, with the laptop (46%) and the smartphone (39%) being the favourite devices to use when researching vehicles.
Face-to-face customer service was rated as the aspect car buyers would like to see more of in the future when purchasing their next car with 35% placing it top. In a further indication on how the virtual and physical worlds are now ever more integrated, 25% wanted to see more high quality imagery, making still shots of the car the second favourite thing customers want to see more of from dealers in future. Almost a fifth (19%) mentioned high quality video as their frontrunner.
Dealers need to take on board other significant findings if they are to woo customers to their business, as 22% want a quick buying journey and surprisingly, 17% want to be able to purchase vehicles online. These findings reflect the growing trust among consumers in buying big ticket items over the internet and customer expectations of a fast turnaround – even for a major purchase like their next vehicle.
A wide range of communication channels (12%), instant messaging (11%), remote vehicle delivery (11%), remote customer service such as via email, by phone or video (10%) and virtual reality (12.5%) reveal an ever-growing reliance and demand for digital communications as part of the buying process.
Even though face-to-face customer service is the clear winner, dealers should not ignore the up and coming trends of increased digital communications. Indeed, personalised video can start to bridge the virtual gap before customers set foot in the dealership. A personal video in response to a vehicle enquiry whereby the dealership and the sales executive are introduced can help build the relationship before the customer arrives on site.